A Bay area grandmother of 4 and a man were arrested Sunday while attempting to deliver toys to migrant children being detained at a shelter.
The 2 people arrested, Elizabeth DeCou and Jesse Ingber, went to the Baptist Child and Family Services shelter on Pennsylvania Avenue Sunday with about 35 volunteers to deliver toys and books and sing lullabies to the kids in Spanish, according to the Facebook group Solidaridad con Niños, who posted video of the incident to their Facebook page.
In the video, DeCou, a 66 year-old registered nurse and child abuse victim advocate from Oakland, approaches the shelter with a basket of toys in her arms as volunteers sing, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Spanish. She is stopped by a Fairfield police officer and a security guard, who tell them to leave the property.
“Are you going to step back on the sidewalk or no?” the officer asked, and DeCou answered, “no.” At that point she was cuffed and arrested. Ingber, 27, was also arrested after approaching the shelter with a stuffed animal in his hands.
DeCou said she demanded answers about the safety and well-being of the kids. Officers refused to answer any questions.
“We have facilities nearby where children are being held, but we won’t know if they’ve been recently separated from their parents,” she told The Mercury News. “We don’t know their ages. We don’t know how long they’ve been held.”
“We’re not allowed any information as to the status of these children and if they’re safe,” DeCou said.
Fairfield police said DeCou was arrested and cited for misdemeanor trespassing.
DeCou said the issue is very personal because her father escaped Nazi Germany when he was just 13. “I’m so sorry to see what is happening to this country,” she said.
Baptist Child and Family Services is part of a private network of organizations that keeps “unaccompanied” migrant children.
The shelter has been identified in news reports as one of the places currently sheltering some of the migrant children who were taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the week before the visit, the group tried contacting the shelter many times to coordinate the visit, but the shelter would not return phone calls.